Who are we?
Our beliefs about ourselves, God, and the origin and the purpose of life determine what we do while we live and what we believe happens to us after death.
A person who does not believe in God and thus lives without God has no hope of life after death. This person believes that this life is all there is. There is nothing beyond. This earthly, physical life provides the only love, joy, peace and happiness that he or she will ever have. There is nothing else. This person is waiting for nothing in the future. His only hope is to enjoy all that he can now. When it’s over, it’s over. Forever.
On the other hand, followers of Jesus believe that it is not all of life to exist or all of death to die. Jesus promises them life now and forever. He said that those who believe in him “will never die” (John 11:25-26). He promised, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). When death occurs, as it does for them as well as for everyone else, they do not cease to exist but go into the spiritual world where Christ receives them (Acts 7:59; Philippians 1:20-21). In the end time, they will be resurrected with a new and glorious body in which they will serve the Lord forever (I Corinthians 15:35-48). The Apostle Paul wrote,
This will all occur when Jesus returns a second time “to eagerly save those that are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28). When the Apostle Paul preached the message of Jesus to the Thessalonians, they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:9-10). Using sleep as a metaphor for death, Paul wrote to assure them that those who die before the Lord’s return will share in the glory of the resurrection:
This life is not all there is. Followers of Jesus are waiting for the coming of Jesus. He who is with us now will be with us forever. Whether in life or death, he promises us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Nothing, not even death, can separate us from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). With the help of God’s Holy Spirit, we serve the Lord faithfully now and the fruit of the Spirit is seen in us (Romans 8:1-30; Galatians 5:16-22). We are strengthened and encouraged by the truth of this benediction:
Someday, God’s people will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
At the end of our earthly lives, we can confidently affirm with the Apostle Paul: